Tapas is the Spanish word for sucker. Or at least, that’s how tapas make me feel.
At first, I jumped on the tapas bandwagon. It was a novelty to think of communal dining in a day and age when everything is “gorge on the run.” I loved the idea of Spanish-influenced food courses over long periods of time with close friends. I appreciated the portion-control of smaller-sized items.
So, I went to dimly lit restaurants with yellow tablecloths and ordered large glasses of wine and small plates of food. Crostini with goat cheese and marinated red peppers. Chorizo-stuffed mushrooms. Ham and cheese croquettes.
However, there would be two small croquettes on the plate, and one and a half would go to the other three people at my table. I’d get a half-croquette, and I would leave the restaurant hungry.
My friends and I quickly learned to order more plates. Shrimp scampi, baked mussels, chicken skewers. By the time we had satiated our appetites, we would find the bill outrageously expensive and ourselves outlandishly “well-wined.” (Ordering extra glasses of wine was the only way to pass the time while waiting for other plates.) Eating enough to satisfy hunger seemed to cost a pretty penny with all of these tiny dishes.
If an alien landed on earth, he would wonder why tapas restaurants could charge more money for littler plates. It is a win-win for the restaurant industry: let people spend more money by ordering more expensive plates of smaller-portioned food. In any regular fine-dining restaurant, I can order a bowl of mussels for $10.99. At a tapas restaurant, I can order three mussels for $7.99. And I allow this to happen…because I’ve had four glasses of sangria.
I want to love tapas restaurants. I really do. And if you want me to meet you at your favorite tapas restaurant, I will be there with bells on.
Just know that I will have already eaten dinner. 🙂